WELLINGTON COUNTY – It’s that time of year again; when food banks and other organizations across Wellington County are busy putting together Christmas hampers and festive treats for people in need.
Arthur Food Bank
The Arthur hamper program anticipates it will be giving out about 60 Christmas hampers this season.
They will include a turkey, eggs, bacon, bread, milk, cheese, assorted canned goods, turnip, carrots and potatoes, explained Lion’s Club volunteer Ralph Roelofsen.
The idea is to provide everything for a Christmas dinner.
The food bank also asks each family to tell them their children’s wants and needs. Envelopes are then hung on a Christmas tree at the TD Bank in downtown Arthur on Nov. 30, and those wishing to help out can choose an envelope and purchase a gift or gifts for that child.
The gifts can be dropped off at the TD Bank by Dec. 19 and will be added to the appropriate hamper.
Roelofsen suggested buyers spend between $30 and $40, “but it’s up to them.”
Most of the food is collected through the schools in Kenilworth and Arthur, Roelofsen said, but cash donations can be sent to PO Box 30 in Arthur or to the Arthur and Area Curling Club on Dec. 20.
The gift cards will be on the tree from Nov. 30 to Dec. 18 and gifts must be returned by Dec. 19. The hampers will be distributed on Dec. 21.
Centre Wellington Food Bank
Last year the Centre Wellington Food Bank tried something new.
Instead of giving out pre-boxed hampers with the fixings for Christmas dinner, each family or individual in need received a grocery card.
“We had very positive response from it and also from the churches because in previous years … we’ve asked each church to donate one particular item and say 200 of that item so each of our 200 hampers would have say a box of juice or cereal or something like that,” said food bank chair Jackie Andrews.
“Last year we asked them if they would donate money towards the grocery cards and we had an overwhelming response.”
This year Andrews said they expect to distribute just over 200 hampers.
The food bank will continue to offer its Angel program, matching interested community members or businesses with a food bank client family and asking them to purchase Christmas gifts for children up to 18 years of age.
The food bank will also offer a toy shop from the Lions Club toy drive; and six area businesses – Vienna Hair Salon and Spa, Village Kids, Little Angels, Keltech Signs/Fergus Printing, Magic Cuts, the ReStore and Remedy RX – are offering angel trees to collect toys for certain age groups.
Customers choose an ornament off the tree, purchase a gift for that age group, and return it to the business.
Andrews said the most needed gifts are items for teenage boys. She suggested gift cards to fast food restaurants or coffee shops in Fergus.
The food bank will offer a marketplace, gift shop and another area (offering new outerwear, coats, snow pants and warm socks) where clients can choose gift items.
Scotia Bank in downtown Fergus will again hold its turkey drive from Dec. 3 to 21. The donated funds will be included on the grocery gift card and the bank will match the first $3,000 donated.
This year hampers will be built and filled on Dec. 11 and 12 with pickup occurring on the evening of Dec. 12 and all day Dec. 13.
Clifford Food Bank
The Clifford Food Bank has already sent out notices to people and families who may be in need of a Christmas hamper.
Food bank chair Bruce Shannon said the food bank expects to provide 25 to 30 hampers this season.
Clifford Food Bank hampers include a full Christmas dinner with a turkey, ham or chicken, and about two weeks of additional food.
Many items in the hamper were donated at the Santa Claus parade and at the library.
The food bank tries to provide a gift for kids under 14 and gift cards for older kids.
To donate, call the food bank at 519-327-8588 and leave a message.
The cut off date to apply for a hamper is Dec. 10, with assembly commencing on Dec. 17 and pick up Dec. 18.
Drayton Food Bank
The Drayton Food Bank expects to distribute about 30 Christmas hampers.
“Our hampers include all the items that would normally be in our regular hampers, as well as items to prepare a Christmas dinner,” volunteer Lauren DeVries said.
“Families will be given either a turkey or ham, a dessert and several fresh items (vegetables, fruit, milk, cheese, bread, etc.).”
Non-perishable food or money can be donated at Drayton Reformed Church, Drayton Freshmart or the Royal Bank in Drayton. The food bank can be reached at 519-504-2346, or at email@example.com.
This year the food bank is also teaming up with the Drayton Kinettes to offer toys for kids and stocking stuffers (like socks, small games and lip gloss) for teens.
Donation bins are located at Marspan Home Hardware, Dobben’s Hardware, Fears Bibs’n’Cribs and the Moorefield Diner.
“Parents will then have the opportunity to select their own special items for their children at the time of food hamper pick-up,” DeVries said.
In addition, the Bless this House project is collecting new household items, personal items and treats to fill housewarming baskets. Collection bins are located at Drayton churches. For more information contact Kim Frere at 519-638-2257 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Drayton Food Bank asks that hamper requests be made by Dec. 12. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 20, with assembly on Dec. 21 and distribution on Dec. 22. Donations for the Bess this House project will be accepted before Dec. 17.
“Without the generosity of our community and the time given of many volunteers, the hamper program wouldn’t be possible,” DeVries said.
East Wellington Community Services
East Wellington Community Services anticipates giving out 60 to 70 hampers in Erin and about 30 in Rockwood this season.
The hampers, which food bank supervisor Chrissie Roberts said should likely cost between $125 to $150 per adult, contain Christmas dinner and breakfast for the entire family. This includes the choice of ham or turkey.
Children receive gifts through the Adopt-a-Family program run by the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington.
EWCS asks that hampers be dropped off Dec. 10 to 14.
Harriston Food Bank
In Harriston, food bank coordinator Iris Richardson anticipates distributing 50 Christmas hampers.
They will have everything necessary for a Christmas dinner, with a ham, chicken or turkey and all the trimmings. The Rothsay rendering plant donated funds for the turkeys.
Richardson said the food bank is looking for items that would make each hamper special, whether that be a special juice or fresh fruit.
Call the food bank at 519-510-3663 to arrange drop-off or pick-up.
For hampers going to families with children, gifts will be available for kids through a toy drive at Leslie Motors. Cash donations will also be accepted at Leslie Motors to purchase gifts for age groups lacking in donated gifts.
In adult hampers the food bank will include hygiene products and candy, along with Tim Hortons gift cards, provided by the Blessings to You Centre in Palmerston.
Applications are accepted until Dec. 12 with distribution scheduled for Dec. 19.
“We try the same approach every year and whatever we can do to help brighten the season … that’s what Christmas is all about,” Richardson said.
Mount Forest Community Pantry
The Mount Forest Christmas Bureau, a subsidiary of the Mount Forest Community Pantry, is once again offering its Christmas hampers, including everything needed for a full turkey dinner as well as treats “with an emphasis on fresh food,” said coordinator Daphne Rappard.
The hampers will also include toiletries and each child will receive a full outfit of clothing and gifts.
Last year about 150 hampers were distributed.
Angel trees are available at Mike and Carol’s Foodland, TD Canada Trust, Young’s Home Hardware and Getaway Spa.
“When a child is registered with the Christmas Bureau, customized angels will be hung on these trees for appropriate clothing and gifts,” Rappard said. “People can then choose an angel, and know their purchase will go to that specific child.”
Unwrapped gifts, with the angel tag attached, should be returned to the tree from which the angel was removed by Dec. 16.
Kindred Credit Union is hosting a turkey tree where donated money will go towards purchasing turkeys.
Christmas food drives are being held at locations such as Hair on Queen and St. Mary Catholic School.
Toiletries are being collected by local EMS crews, Chloe and Jenn’s Hair Salon and Jessica’s Aesthetics.
Baby necessities are being gathered at Stumbled Upon and by the Woodland Springs Women’s Institute.
Shelly’s Just for You Spa is focussing on seniors, providing care parcels for those living at Birmingham Lodge and Saugeen Valley Nursing Center who have no family.
St. Mary Catholic School and Victoria Cross Public School are collecting socks.
Grocery donations at No Frills will go to the Community Pantry, while donations made at Foodland between Dec. 1 and 15 will go to the Christmas Bureau. Pre-made bags will be available and Sobey’s will match donations.
Monetary donations can also be made at the TD Bank, be sent to PO Box 54, Mount Forest, or dropped off at M&M Food Market, which also hosts a hat, sock and mitt tree.
Hampers will be distributed on Dec. 21.
Palmerston Food Bank
The Palmerston Food Bank has noticed a reduction in the number of hampers requested, but volunteer Barb Burrows estimates 35 will be distributed this year.
The Palmerston Food Bank Christmas hampers will include either a ham, chicken or turkey with all the dinner trimmings.
“There will be extra because we’re taking a little break over Christmas, New Years … so we will be giving more,” Burrows said.
Gifts will also be included in the hampers. The social outreach committee at the Palmerston United Church is organizing a toy drive.
Foodland in Palmerston will offer pre-bagged packages for $10, $15 or $20.
Those looking to receive a hamper must apply by Dec. 8 and the hampers will be distributed on Dec. 17.
“We have a very, very generous supporting community,” Burrows said. “People will meet you in the street and give you things.
“We are blessed with a supporting, wonderful community.”